Baghawat Geeta, Class 116: Chapter 8, Verses 23 to 28
Shloka # 22:
पुरुषः स परः पार्थ भक्त्या लभ्यस्त्वनन्यया।
यस्यान्तःस्थानि भूतानि येन सर्वमिदं ततम्।।8.22।।
The supreme Spirit, O Arjuna! may be won by means of unswerving devotion-the Spirit in whom all beings dwell and by whom all this is pervaded.
Continuing his teaching Swamiji said, Sri Krishna made a comparative and contrasting study of two possible destinations for a human being. Although one can have many goals including the four purusharthas, Sri Krishna compressed all those goals into two types. One is an infinite goal while the other is a finite goal. Every goal is finite or infinite. Even dharma, artha, kama moksha are finite. Because dharma means punyam and any amount of puṇyam you acquire, it is born out of finite actions. Wealth accumulated is finite; Kama that includes all forms of entertainment is also finite. The 14 Lokas including Brahma loka, even Brahmaji himself, are all finite. They may have a long duration of existence, but nevertheless they are finite. Even the sun will explode one day showing its finite existence.
Finite goals can also be called anatama while infinite goal can be termed as atma or god himself. God is sashvatham everything else is ashashvatham. Intelligent person must see god alone. So choose god alone as your goal. This is what Krishna’s advice or teaching is. And to drive home this point, he just discussed this elaborately from shloka’s #15 through # 22.
And when we say God is the destination, initially we present God as a person, situated in some loka, like Vaikuntha or Kailasa. However, Sri Krishna wants to remove that idea because, if God is a person located in a place, even God will come under finite goal, bound by time and space. Anything not bound by space and time has to be formless. So, God is the formless consciousness principle. God is neither matter nor energy. If god is energy it cannot be transformed. However, both mechanical energy and electrical energy are all inter transformable; meaning it is part of time. So, God is neither matter nor energy; God is the witness consciousness that witnesses change. It itself is changeless. It is infinite. It should be your destination.
Shloka # 23:
यत्र काले त्वनावृत्तिमावृत्तिं चैव योगिनः।
प्रयाता यान्ति तं कालं वक्ष्यामि भरतर्षभ।।8.23।।
Best of Bharata Princes! I shall declare the time departing in which, the Yogins do not return and also that, departing in which, they return.
Having talked about two destinations from shloka 23 onwards Sri Krishna now talks about two types of paths that lead to the two types of goals. A route is required to reach a destination. So, we have two margas. This also means there are two types of travellers travelling the two routes to two different destinations. Shloka # 23 through # 27 discuss the two margas then the two travellers.
In the shloka Kala means marga. Yogin means traveller or seeker. Yanti means reaches. Anavrthi means infinite goal; it is a goal from which one does not return. The other goal is called Avrithi, where they go and return. Avrithi is a finite goal. These two margas, I shall teach, O Arjuna, says Sri Krishna.
The two margas are:
Shulka Marga: Bright path
Krishna marga: Gloomy path. In this path one enjoys pleasures of another world and then returns. It is known as Devayanam or Krishnayanam.
Shloka # 24:
अग्निर्ज्योतिरहः शुक्लः षण्मासा उत्तरायणम्।
तत्र प्रयाता गच्छन्ति ब्रह्म ब्रह्मविदो जनाः।।8.24।।
The fire, light, day, the bright fortnight, the six months of the northern solar movements, departing in time marked by these, Brahman-knowers reach Brahman.
Sri Krishna defines Shukla Gathi or Devayanam here. Those who go through shukla marga attain God or Krama mukti. To attain karma mukti one goes first to Brahma loka, gets Gyanam there and then gets liberation. The nature of shukla marga is now described. Vedas talk of Shukla and Krishna margas. Brahmasutra provides greater details of both these paths. There are guides, devatas, to help travellers in these paths. They take you to a particular destination and hand you off to another guide. Who are these devatas? They are: Agni, Jyoti, Ahaha, Shukla and Uttarayanam. These are the five devatas for Shukla marga.
Uttarayanam is the six-month period when sun travels north. Devata here means the intelligent principle governing laws of nature. All devatas put together is Hiranyagarbha Tatvam. These five devatas are the guides.
Who is the traveller? They are special people entitled to this travel. They are Saguna Brahma Upasakas or worshippers of God with attributes. Ritualists or Karmi’s don’t get to travel in this marga.
A Gyani will also not get to travel this path because he gets his liberation here itself. A Gyani does not need Krama mukti. The karmi, ritualist, does not get any mukti, jivan or krama. So, the route is shukla gathi and the traveller is also known.
Shloka # 25:
धूमो रात्रिस्तथा कृष्णः षण्मासा दक्षिणायनम्।
तत्र चान्द्रमसं ज्योतिर्योगी प्राप्य निवर्तते।।8.25।।
Smoke, night, the dark (fortnight) the six months of the sun’s southern course-passing away during time marked by these, the Yogin reaches the lunar light and returns.
Tatra means the second path or Krishna marga.
Yogi means Karmi or ritualist; they don’t practice upasanas. They obtain punyams of a lower quality. Upasana gives the highest quality of punyam, as mental sadhana is more difficult. Karmi reaches swarga loka or Chandra loka that are lower than Brahma Loka (satya loka).
The guides here are: Dhuma Devata (smoke); Ratri devata; Krishna paksha devata and Dakshinayana Devata. More devatas are cited by Chandogya Upanishad to take one to Swargaloka.
Why is swarga loka path a dark one? Here he will go and enjoy, but once punyam is over he has to come back to this world. Even thinking of his return adds to his misery. The traveller here is a karmi or a ritualist.
Shloka # 26:
शुक्लकृष्णे गती ह्येते जगतः शाश्वते मते।
एकया यात्यनावृत्तिमन्ययाऽऽवर्तते पुनः।।8.26।।
These two are indeed the light and dark courses held to be eternal for the world. By means of the first one goes and does not return; by the other one comes back again.
Sri Krishna is gives the names of the paths here. The two paths are known as Shukla gathi and Krishna gathi. When were the two roads created? They were created with the creation of the universe and vedas when the Karma Upasana teaching came down, as did human beings. With this the sadhaka also came into being, as did the two paths. So, they are all eternal until next pralayam. They are as eternal as the universe. A person going via shukla gathi will obtain Krama Mukti also known as anavrithi.
Through Krishna gathi one goes to Swarga loka due to his punyam; he will however have to return. The two paths have been detailed in the Brahma sutra.
The previous two shlokas have some confusing aspects. In the previous two shlokas, Sri Krishna mentions uttarayanam and shukla paksha, and day-time and Sri Krishna says whoever dies in those times, a person will go to karma mukthi. So the confusion that can come is we may think the time of death will determine whether we will get shukla gati or Krishna gati.
Similarly if you study the 25th shloka, it appears as though if you die in dakshinayanam, Krishna paksha or nighttime, it appears as though you will get Krishna gati. Therefore it appears as though the time of death will determine the direction of travel because the word kala is used there.
Brahma sutra however clarifies by saying that time of death does not determine direction of journey; rather it is quality of death that determines which route one takes. For any confusion in understanding the Gita, Brahma sutra’s interpretation is considered the final word.
Shloka # 27:
नैते सृती पार्थ जानन्योगी मुह्यति कश्चन।
तस्मात्सर्वेषु कालेषु योगयुक्तो भवार्जुन।।8.27।।
Knowing these courses, Arjuna no Yogin falls into delusion. Therefore, at all times apply yourself to Yoga.
Sri Krishna says, I have talked about two paths and two travellers. Knowing the difference between the two margas a Yogi, an intelligent seeker, a viveki, is never confused with respect to the path.
O Arjuna I assure, you are an intelligent seeker; so become an upsaka or take the path of upsana. Continue with karma but also perform Saguna Ishwara Upasana.
Yoga in shloka means Saguna Ishwara Upasana. Between Karma and Upasana choose upasana. Keep in mind Gyanam is still superior to both Karma and Upasana. It is, however, not discussed in chapter # 8.
Gyanam comes back in Chapter # 9. With this the discussion on this topic has concluded. Now Sri Krishna glorifies God as the destination.
Shloka # 28:
वेदेषु यज्ञेषु तपःसु चैव
दानेषु यत्पुण्यफलं प्रदिष्टम्।
अत्येति तत्सर्वमिदं विदित्वा
योगी परं स्थानमुपैति चाद्यम्।।8.28।।
The meritorious fruits (of learning) the Vedas, of sacrifices, penances and gifts-all these the Yogin transcends by knowing this, and he also reaches the supreme Primal State.
Yogi Idam Sarvam in shloka means Saguna Ishwara Upasaka. Having understood the teaching, this upsaka votes for Krama mukti and attains God.
Here God is described as Param adhyam sthanam; the supreme and beginning less abode; or destination; So adhyam means sarva karanam; param means the highest and sthanam means destination, which is none other than nitya Ishwaram upaiti.
What is glory of Nithya Ishwara? It is greater than all karma phalam’s including Veda parayanam, rituals, vows, charity and many more such karmas. Veda promises punya phalam. However, Upsana phalam transcends all these karma phalams. Upasana gets God, so take to saguna Ishwara Upasana. So, O Arjuna! remember God at time of death, says Sri Krishna. With this the seventh question of Arjuna also has been answered.
So thus is concluded the 8th chapter titled, aksharam brahma yoga. Better title for this chapter might have been prayanakala smarana yoga. In some books, this chapter is titled, Taraka Brahma yoga. They are all acceptable.